DEUTSCHE WELLE (German National Broadcaster) - 22nd March 2010



Surface mining in Goa holiday idyll

Author: Jochen Faget

Goa, the smallest state in India, is known as a vacation paradise. But now things come to the iron ore industry has become. In surface mining, and without regard to environmental damage.

Even the farmer Rama Velip every day working in his coconut grove and in the newly created cashew nut plantation. Next door, he watered his rice fields. 17 people, the whole extended family live on the 15 acres, which has already bought Rama's father. But Rama does not know how long they can stay still. A mining company has applied to the Government of Goa, degrade in the vicinity of the village of Rama iron ore. Then it was over to agriculture: "We fight against the mine," complains the farmer, who is in his forties. "For iron ore mining, the water unusable for agriculture and reduced the water table. Then there is no water for the rice fields anymore."

Little regard for losses
When iron ore mining in the Indian state of Goa little consideration is given to the environment. Since the turn of the millennium world commodity prices exploded, the number of open-pit mines in Goa has skyrocketed. Whole mountains are removed, agricultural land for hundreds of meters deep dug, even cut down forests. The environmental damage is catastrophic, says Claude Alvares of the environmental group Goa Foundation: "The river beds of our two largest rivers Zuari and Mandovi, are coated with a film of mine tailings, even if the mining companies all their money for was spending, it would not be enough for. to pay the damages. According to scientific studies, these two rivers were already dead almost 20 years ago How bad must it be until now! "

From politicians incite
For nearly ten percent of the area of ​​Goa mining licenses are granted. Would that all would be really used it for an absolute disaster, environmentalists fear. Yet politicians from incite. Prataphsing Rane, Speaker of Parliament and longtime head of government of Goa appeased: "To say that mining is bad, would be fundamentally wrong But of course, the legislature must protect the environment, must be planted after mining the landscape again.."

Claude Alvares called cynical lip service by the Goa Foundation that such statements. For, first, that still says not a single mine to be exhausted and newly planted been. Secondly, the mining industry a powerful lobby: Some 50,000 jobs are in Goa from him, most of which local companies make billions in profits. And many politicians of Goa earned strong with partners or contractors who complain Umweltschüzter. The farmer Rama Velip complains. "Politicians are stuck with the mining companies under a blanket They get a lot of money to send even the police if we protest against the mining industry, the companies file charges against us and we will be arrested I was already... four times in prison. "

Resistance increases
And yet the resistance against the destruction of natural resources is increasing. Villagers block roads, because the noise is unbearable by overloaded ore trucks and the dust is not only destroying the cashew plantations, but also causes respiratory diseases. Environmental organizations such as the Goa Foundation suing mining licenses in protected areas and game reserves. The wind has turned, says Claude Alvares. "A few years people have accepted mining yet but have seen for it, what happens to their villages, they are not more willing, the mood has changed and only.. the money that is made with mining, as well as the tacit tolerance of the policy to keep the industry alive. "

Central government intervenes
The fight against the mining lobby will be a long, white Claude Alvares of the Goa Foundation. Because of the high price of iron is also mined in Goa now poor-quality ore. Alone in the farmhouse near the village of Rama Velip therefore want to dig two more companies. The lawsuits have been filed, however. But the road through the courts of the Indian judiciary can take up to twenty years. An important first victory of the Environmentalists have won anyway: The Minister of the Indian central government has recently declared that he would not as long as the need for new mines approve environmental impact studies, to define the state government of Goa mining its policy clear.